I believe clean places in Catbalogan are hard to find. Honest. You can only name a few establishments where you are assured that the food handlers believed the adage "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
Reason for this haphazard and frank opinion was that when I first went there sometime in 1997, the place was very dirty. Piled garbage remained ignored right at the premises of their Capitol building like they were cancers of the streets. Open sewers flooded the streets. The market place is so wet until now so that going there was like an open invitation to all sorts of sickness. People were ill-disciplined they spit and throw their wastes just about everywhere. Public toilets and restrooms were not worth a peep.
I believe that the very basic place to see if food is safe in that place is just by looking at their toilets. Just imagine what are they doing with their food if the toilet of that certain establishment is like a garbage bin.
Two years ago I wrote a disgusting blog about Catbalogan: If you have nothing good to say- blog it! It is really hard to make an honest opinion of a place where some of its residents have become your close friends. But still-
After 14 years of coming to that place, sometimes thrice a year, some establishments have actually improved, thanks heavens. There is now a Jollibee. There are others who have remained clean like Tony's Kitchen, Haropoi, Lugar ni Edgar and Charito's. I saw a coffee shop that looked clean somewhere in Ubanon but never had the chance to go in because the street where it is located was flooded.
Another improvement is you can now also stay in a clean hotel like Rolet's or a pension house like Rose Scent. Six years ago I checked-in in a pension house but ran away from there because cockroaches greeted me at the door of my room.
But one of the most consistent place to eat is at Tina's Garden. The place does not brag about sophistication and all but remained simple and reasonably priced. It is located just around the corner from Rolet's Hotel. I wonder why the official website of Catbalogan did not even mentioned the place.
|Their version of halo-halo|
Tina's most favored products are the cool concoctions, one of which is very famous and the house specialty- halo-halo. Their version is very simple and does not have enough ingredients to compete with Chowking's. But it is one of the best halo-halo I have tasted. Much better than the highly priced but lackluster halo-halo of Cafe Lawis in Dauis Church in Bohol.
Even their sandwiches which I have not tasted at all were plainly wrapped in plastic for the customers to see, unlike Jollibee or Dunkin' Donuts. What I always love to eat there is their deliciously done rice puto and banana fritters and the occasional pudding.
I just hope the places I mentioned here would not succumb to the mentality of Catbalogan as a whole.
Meanwhile, somewhere in that small island of Zumarraga in Samar, a small store also sells halo-halo. It is not the best but still thirst-quenching in its simplicity.
Is simplicity the clue to great halo-halos?
|Mana Choling's version of halo-halo|